What Instagram Carousel Ads for Stories Mean to Brands

Opinion: The format reflects the rise of the micro-moment

Instagram provides a way for brands to collapse the customer journey, from discovery to purchase, on one platform Instagram/@Gap

Instagram recently launched a new ad format, carousel ads for Instagram Stories, which make it possible for consumers to purchase products through a carousel of branded video and product images. This format initially launched on Facebook.

The launch of Instagram collection ads is significant for a number of reasons:

The rise of the micro-moment

The format reflects the rise of the micro-moment. Google coined the term to mean instances when people use their mobile devices to instantly decide what to do, where to go and what to buy.

As Google has argued convincingly, the proliferation of mobile devices has accelerated the customer journey. People are quickly progressing from stages of awareness, consideration and purchase all on one device.

Especially as Google rewards mobile-first experiences in search results, businesses need to embrace mobile advertising—and ecommerce—on platforms such as Instagram. Indeed, 30 percent of online shoppers would make a purchase from a social network, with 20 percent saying they would do so from Facebook.

The power of visual

Being on Instagram is really table stakes for most businesses to have any kind of meaningful presence online. People upload 1.8 billion photos per day according to analyst Mary Meeker. By 2019, global consumer internet video traffic will account for 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic.

Many brands have responded to these trends by using Instagram, Snapchat and other visual platforms to build awareness. But ad units such as collection ads show how visual storytelling can be integrated into actual purchasing of products and services, as well.

Brands should be looking at formats such as collection ads to remove friction from deciding and buying in the visual age.

The influence of Facebook

For all of the blowback Facebook has faced recently, the world’s largest social media platform is, well … the world’s largest social media platform.

Facebook casts a large shadow. The fact that collection ads first appeared on Facebook shows you how Facebook can use itself and the businesses it owns as a proving ground for advertising formats before unleashing those formats on to a larger audience.

For a large company, Facebook can be quite nimble with product rollouts, quickly matching competitors such as Snapchat with new features and using its size and reach as an advantage. As we’ve seen with Facebook’s algorithm changes, Facebook is pushing brands to an advertising-first world and marginalizing organic content. Brands will need to pay up to play in the world Facebook is shaping.

With Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat dialing up their ecommerce capabilities, businesses need to go beyond viewing social as a brand-building platform. Being on Instagram is just the price of admission for even having a brand, period. Making it possible for consumers to do business with you on Instagram remains largely unchartered territory, but more brands are figuring out how to do so, as Instagram gives them more tools to test and learn.

In the era of the micro-moment, Instagram provides a way for brands to collapse the customer journey, from discovery to purchase, on one platform.

Taylor Murphy is a digital media manager at independent digital agency KeywordFirst.